Some advance, some go home, some will play another day
By By Stan Torgerson / sports columnist
October 13, 2003
Not since Chancellor Dr. Porter Fortune fired Billy and Bruiser Kinard in the middle of the night after the third game of the 1973 season have I seen Ole Miss fans as stirred up by an administrative decision as the one to retire Colonel Reb.
The Kinards were the head football coach and athletic director respectively. Colonel Reb is a lovable old gentlemen who in the minds of
the majority of alumni and friends of the university has become a symbol of the school's athletic programs.
Last May when the plan to discard Colonel Reb was first revealed I
wrote a column for this newspaper opposing the action. I quoted Chuck
Rounsaville, editor of the school's fan publication "The Ole Miss Spirit" who endorsed the idea with these words.
take some names. I want him to look like a warrior hot, bothered and ready to explode."
That, of course, is not what Rebel fans got. What they were presented
with was a choice of a caricature of Colonel Reb who had been taking
steroids or an angry Mr. Clean whose facial expression indicated he either had a temper problem or was suffering from a severe case of hemorrhoids.
What the administration got was a major negative reaction that forced
them to make a change in direction.
My position was clear from the git-go. These are quotes from that
to explode, Alabama fans can stop carrying around toilet tissue on a stick with a box of laundry soap attached and the non-warrior type words Roll Tide' underneath.
supposed to inspire Vanderbilt's Commodores by dressing like one. A
Commodore that is.
Obviously Arkansas fans must think so. They've lived with one for years,
even to the extent of wearing hats made in the image of a hog's head."
Then I said this.
consultants shave that funny beard off Colonel Reb, put him in more modern clothes or throw out the entire concept and ask the fans to accept perhaps the Ole Miss Magnolias as the symbol of choice."
Apparently Chuck, Chancellor Robert Khayat and athletic director Pete Boone didn't read the column.
There is no doubt in my mind about what caused this welcome change of heart. The administration is raising money to build an indoor practice facility to be used by the football team and other sports. It is a very expensive project. My guess is that enough of the big money contributors, most of whom are older and shall we say set in their love for the school as it is, the very people the administration was relying on for
contributions, told them they were shutting their checkbooks.
As for me, I have not changed my opinion from these words written in a column for the Spirit also last May.
appears," I wrote. "But he better be someone or something I feel safe and
conformable with. Colonel Reb and I have been through a lot together and
I'm not going to be one of those who asks him to retire."
In truth this was a public relations fiasco. When the school recently held an election to decide which of the newly drawn mascots the fans would prefer, most people refused to vote at all. Goodness knows how many
letters the athletic department received. Goodness also knows how many checks they were expecting that didn't make their mailbox.
So Colonel Reb is back although school authorities say he won't be
allowed to come to the games. He can visit his friends and fans in The
Grove before the game but he can't come to the field. How long do you think that edict will last? When you start messing with family you've got a problem and Colonel Reb, funny beard, odd hat, oversized shoes and all is family. Welcome home, suh.